Monday, June 30, 2008

Even more great places to eat in L.A....

I always think personal recommendations of cafes, bars and restaurants are really useful, so here are some helpful ideas if you want to eat out in West Hollywood or some other areas in L.A., whether you're visiting or a local who wants to try something different.

Even though our new pup, Cooper, is keeping us fairly house-bound at the moment we have been trying to get out as much as possible (so he gets used to being at home on his own for short periods of time) and so we found ourselves at some local West Hollywood eateries for dinner on both Friday and Sunday evening.


Basix - 8333 Santa Monica Blvd (corner of N Flores St), West Hollywood.
Basix Cafe WEHO
So on Friday night we found ourselves at the sister restaurant to tex-mex Marix on Flores St, Basix. The food here is not anything out of this world, but it's hearty fare and they do great thin pizzas, change their 'specials' regularly and can make a good Cosmo.

Unfortunately on Friday evening after being told the three of us would only have to wait 20 minutes, 40 minutes later we were absolutely famished and if Basix hadn't been so convenient to home, we would have tried elsewhere. To be honest on other occassions, we've had no problem getting a table, so I'm sure it was a one-off and once we were seated our food came fairly quickly.

I had a fantastic Broccoli 'Soup of the Day' (I'm told their tomato soup is consistently excellent and to be recommended too) and a BBQ chicken pizza which was very tasty and filling (I didn't need to it, but I persevered and felt stuffed afterwards regardless).

You can eat inside and outside at Basix. Plus there's an additional seating area outside on the sidewalk for those who want to get seated quicker and don't want to drink alcohol.

I'll also say that whilst our waiter was trying to be funny, I found him a bit odd and creepy, but maybe he just wasn't my taste!

Hugo's Restaurant - 8401 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood.
Hugo's Restaurant Santa Monica Blvd WEHO
Just up the street from Basix, we tried Hugo's Restaurant for dinner on Sunday. If you like healthy living, you'll love Hugo's. It's all about organic ingredients and sustainable living. They offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes, but also have a large menu for meat eaters too!

We were greeted by friendly staff and our table service was good. I opted for a Gorgonzola & Walnut small salad to start (which had a nice variety of different leafy greens) and the special 'Coconut Curry Halibut', which was on a bed of garlicky spinach and was very filling, but seemed to lack any coconut taste.

I finished it all off with a chocolate cake sundae affair (with a choice of dark chocolate ice cream), which was truly massive and far too big for one person (but great to share)!

Overall I enjoyed the meal and would definitely go back, although some of my dining companions' dishes were slightly more hit or miss.

Taste - 8454 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood.
Taste restaurant on Melrose Avenue
Taste is a nice restaurant with a stylish decor and a mixed crowd. It was very popular the night we dined there, which made it a bit noisy and a bit hard for the three of us to talk, but the food was great.

I chose the pear and caramelized onion pizzetta (which also had Gorgonzola and walnuts on it) which was divine and then the seared Ahi Tuna fillet, which was a huge fillet and was equally gorgeous.

Everyone else had nice food too, but aside from the noise the only other comment I'd make is that the staff seemed overly attentive and we were asked by about four different people, multiple times during our meal how we were doing and was everything OK - it was slightly overkill.


Marmalade - 6301 W Third St, The Grove, Los Angeles.
Farmers Market
Found on the Farmer's Market side of The Grove, Marmalade is a great place for breakfast and lunch.

There's dining space indoors and outside. Even when it's chilly (not that often here in L.A.) there are patio heaters to make eating outside a pleasure.

Their food isn't any gastronomic discovery, but I did order a melt in the mouth, lightly seared Ahi Tuna Steak Sandwich which was equally massive and gorgeous.

It was perfect for a lunch before or after meandering around the shops at The Grove and the Farmer's Market.

Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro - 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles.

The menu and ambiance of Morels is a lot like a Cafe Rouge restaurant in the UK (maybe without as much sunshine though).

For lunch I had a lovely Salad Niciose and we had a nice friendly waiter, so it's a place to remember when shopping at The Grove.

There's seating inside (which is nice and air conditioned) and on the patio area (with cover from the rays if you're not a sun worshipper).

The Farm of Beverly Hills at The Grove - 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles.
The Farm near The Grove fountains
Pop in to The Farm to grab a quick bite to eat or a coffee. You can dine inside or on the patio area and watch the world go buy.

The big airy interior with its wonderful wooden beamed ceiling, is very cool and tranquil when you've been racing through the hordes of shoppers.

Right next to The Grove movie theatre, you can even take your Farm food in with you to watch your film!


Buddha's Belly - 7475 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles.

The food at Buddha's Belly is a fusion of Asian influences and flavours from Japan, Thailand, China, Korea and Vietnam and it's utterly yummy.

They don't take reservations for less than six people, so it was about a ten to fifteen minute wait, but it was well worth it.

Needing something spicy and a bit of comfort food, I opted for the special starter of shrimp and scallop rolls and for the Thai Green Curry Chicken with Jasmine Rice. Both were delicious and a bit of a tonic to the often 'bland' flavours of L.A. cuisine.

I would also highly recommend the The Alaskan Black Cod and Chilled Vietnamese Rolls I also sampled.

El Coyote Cafe - 7312 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles.
El Coyote Cafe
This Cal-Mexican restaurant is a bit of a Tardis inside, with gaudily decorated rooms that wind their way far back. It serves yummy, affordable food (and lots of it, all pretty much smothered in cheese and sauces).

They did win an AOL Cityguide Award for the best margarita's in L.A., so who am I to argue with award-winning drinks - it would be rude to not sample the local culture, so I tried a few of their blended margarita's.

We had a large rowdy bunch at the tables behind us, so it kind of marred our overall dining experience, but as long as you accept it's going to be buzzy in there you'll enjoy it. UPDATED 9/11/09: I recently learned that the owners of this restaurant supported the YES on Prop 8 vote, so another reason not to dine here.

Casita Del Campo - 1920 Hyperion Avenue, Silver Lake, Los Angeles.

You'll find this casual Mexican restaurant directly above the Cavern Club Theatre, so why not do what I did and eat there before popping along to see a show.

The food is OK (the usual Mexican fare), but it's not too pricey, plus the margarita's go down nicely too.

One small gripe, it's been a while since I've had to queue to use the Men's toilet in a restaurant.

I hope you've found this restaurant round-up useful. Here's some further dining ideas if you haven't found what you were looking for:

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